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Gosder Cherilus reflects on the life lessons learned at Boston College and the NFL

Gosder Cherilus was inducted into the Boston College sports hall of fame in October.Ken McGagh for The Boston Globe

Gosder Cherilus was chosen as a tackle on the Globe’s All-Time All-Scholastic football team. As part of the project, he discussed his football life with us. Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Q: Looking back at some of the old stories, I read that you, Jolonn Dunbar, Tyrone Pruitt, and BJ Raji all decided to get blonde Mohawks before the 2006 season. Do you remember that?

GC: Yeah, we did. I think it was just one of these things where we’re done with training camp and we’re trying to have some fun with being on campus, because what most people don’t understand is we’re on campus six weeks before the regular students come back. So it’s the grind everyday. You do the same thing over and over and over again. Playing for an ex-Navy military man like Coach [Tom] O’Brien, those days were not easy. I wouldn’t change them for anything though.

So I wear my Mohawk and everyone was dying, having a good time with it. But I think I let mine go by the first game, or else I couldn’t have gone back home. But I think Jolonn had his for a while. And that’s the brotherhood. The funny part is, I just got inducted into the BC Hall of Fame and those are the guys who were sitting at my table. In this beautiful sport we played, we’ve crossed paths with thousands of people, but you’d be lucky to really keep relationships with a handful of them.


Q: Did your mom ever see the blonde Mohawk?

GC: I think she’s seen pictures now. I think the Herald or the Globe may have put me on blast. It was just funny when Odell Beckham came out with his. It was like “Oh, we started this.”


Q: Once you made it to the NFL, you went from these super successful BC teams, winning bowl games every year, to the maybe worst season ever with the 0-16 Lions. How was that transition for you and what lessons did you learn from that season?

GC: That was tough. That was probably the most miserable time of my life. Coming from BC where we had a really good team where we were playing for one another. We didn’t care about paychecks, we just cared about bragging rights and winning ball games. And to get to the NFL and not win a game my first year, it was miserable. I remember I was talking to my agent one time and I said, “I’d give it all back just to go back to BC for another year.” He’s like, “The cash and everything?” I’m like, “Man, you have no idea. I never cared that much.” He started laughing, he’s like, “Man you’re going to have to find a way to deal with it.”

There were days that I would be driving to work, I’ll pass my exit by two or three exits, I’m so out of it. But, I was lucky enough to be around some great vets who liked me enough to always pull me to the side. I remember there was a guy by the name of Chuck Darby. We lost the game and I was walking into the locker room one Monday morning. He goes, “Hey Gosder.” I said hello to him, but he could tell I wasn’t really there. He’s like, “Hey get your head up!” I’m like, “What’s up man?” He pulls me aside and he said to me “I watched your tape. You need to learn how to be a pro. You did your part, you’re not the reason why we’re losing, so don’t put it all on yourself. Learn how to show up every day and be the best version of yourself you can be for the team — the best right tackle — and you’ll be good enough. At the end of the day, for everything else you’re thinking about right now, you’re not in college anymore. Let management and coaches deal with these types of guys. That’s when I’m like, “Man that’s what it’s like to be a pro. You just had to worry about yourself.”


Q: What’s something — it could be a story, a stat, a realization, whatever — from your career that people might not know?

GC: I had the biggest hands in the NFL. I think there was a kid about four or five years ago whose hands were either as big as mine or a tad below mine, and that’s when it came back.

Read more about the Globe’s all-time All-Scholastic football team

Julian E.J. Sorapuru is a Development Fellow at the Globe and can be reached at Follow him @JulianSorapuru